For some reason that title gives me flashbacks to the Spin Doctors, but Pierre Tsigaridis’ supernatural horror film is no laughing matter. Many genre entries are like a ghost train, not much more than a few jump scares to spice up a traditional narrative journey. Two Witches is a very different proposition; this is industrial strength horror, to be handled carefully, but recommended to those hardy souls who seek out state-of-the-art scares.
As the title suggests, there’s two stories here that intersect in unexpected ways, giving the whole venture a dream logic where the audience are never quite sure where they are within the narrative. In the first, expectant mother Sarah (Belle Adams) gets the evil eye from an old crone in a restaurant; she’s freaked out, understandably, but her boyfriend Simon (Ian Michaels) assures her that such attentions are nothing to worry about. But this IS something to worry about, and when the couple, complete with unborn baby, go to visit some out-of town new-ager friends (Tim Fox, Dina Silva), things jump up a notch very quickly….
So far, so good, but with the first narrative tied up in a bathroom stall with severed digits and a ghastly dream/nightmare scenario unfolding, we reboot Pulp Fiction style and go again. Rachel Howard (Kristina Klebe, also one of the writers) is having a few issues with her roommate Masha (Rebekah Kennedy), who has uninhibited ideas about sex that she attributes to her free-thinking values. Witchcraft? Rachel doesn’t want to go along with what she terms the ‘patriarchal narrative’ about weird women, but Masha’s behaviour leaves Rachel with no option other than to accept that her roomie is a danger to her and to those she loves.
Two Witches does require some warnings; this is not PC or virtue signalling good vs evil horror with an easy to grasp moral compass. It’s notable that Masha has a gift for presenting herself as a victim, in a way that chimes with the views of those around her, but we can see that her quickness to claim victimhood is an insidious trick. That’s an edgy, some might say dangerous notion for any film, and the devious nature of Masha, played to the hilt by Kennedy, really ups the ante in the second half of the film. On the evidence we see here, the patriarchy might well have a point about witches; you’ll have to shelve any revisionist Hocus Pocus thinking for the duration here, because Two Witches is bad to the bone, and red in tooth and claw to boot.
Not just a passing fad or fancy, Two Witches is a gory, violent, threatening film that has the logic of a dream and the feel of a nightmare. It’s kind of what the Suspiria remake was aspiring to be, the two films could be set in the same dank universe, and if you’ve got the stomach for it, this is one of the more effective supernatural horror films of a year that seems packed with them.